|Black Dragon Arc|
← The Experiment Arc
A Fight to the Death at the Anniversary Celebration Arc →
The Black Dragon Arc is the sixth major story arc within the Soul Eater series. Death the Kid and the Thompsons investigate the disappearance of many souls from a Baltic coastal town, leading them to not only the Kishin's Evil Spirit, the Flying Dutchman, but also Crona. In the aftermath, Kid learns a terrible secret as the anniversary of the DWMA nears. Meanwhile, Franken Stein and Sid Barrett investigate why Dr. Medusa is so interested in Maka Albarn and Soul Eater's blood, and in the anime only Ox Ford struggles to write a report on the annoying Holy Sword Excalibur.
It is March 31. Death the Kid, with Liz and Patty Thompson, is investigating the the consumption of a coastal village, along with its residents' souls. After Kid mentions the legend of a Black Dragon that haunts this sea, the trio discover the Ghost Ship Nidhogg. Upon investigating the ship, Kid locates numerous souls.
Before Kid may collect these souls, however, he is fired upon by the evil spirit, the Flying Dutchman. The Dutchman explains that he is collecting these souls for the Kishin. Kid assumes the Dutchman refers to Ragnarok, only for the Dutchman to explain that he is collecting these souls for "the Kishin closest" to Kid. While Kid is confused, the Dutchman explains that his body and this ship are one in the same, and to prove his point, he opens the floor below Liz, separating her from her teammates. As Kid cannot battle as effectively with only one weapon due to his fixation on symmetry, he and Patty can only dodge the Dutchman's attacks. In this combat, the Dutchman criticizes shinigami like Kid for imposing their divine edicts to judge others, while Kid explains that as a shinigami he is dedicated to balance, including that of good and evil, and so long as anyone is overwhelmingly evil and intends to kill, he will pass judgment.
Meanwhile, Liz is lost in the ship's lower decks. Even as she tries to motivate herself with memories of how capable she was with Patty, surviving on their own as the Devils of Brooklyn, she is terrified as the ghosts of those consumed by the Nidhogg kindly guide her back to Kid and Patty. While one ghost of a girl tries to help Liz, the Thompson sister is so terrified that she drives the girl to curse her for her cowardice.
The ghosts lead Liz to the ship's deck, where Kid and Patty explode from the deck as they are pursued by the Dutchman. After Kid and Liz blame each other for each other's absence and inability to fight, the Thompsons revert to their weapon form. Before Kid can fire upon the Dutchman, however, a blade appears from the sky, slicing the Dutchman's head off at the jaw. The blade is Ragnarok, wielded by Crona. Crona uses Scream Resonance to consume the ship's souls, including that of the girl who guided Liz, shocking the weapon. Upon consuming these souls, Ragnarok's form changes into that of a winged dragon, making Kid realize that the Black Dragon is actually before him.
Flying above Kid with Ragnarok's new wings, Crona threatens that, if Kid interferes, they will kill him. Kid almost instantly is by Crona's side and, after multiple kicks and shots fired, manages to kick Crona down to the deck, the impact of their body crashing causing the Nidhogg to tip to its side. Kid also chastises Crona that, rather than seeking power to avoid fear, Crona should make their soul stronger. Kid then notices a glimmer of light appear on the deck just right of his foot. This flash of light is Crona's Screech Beta technique. Kid is shocked his attacks seemed to have no affect on Crona.
From the sky above, Crona says that a shinigami like Kid is unable to understand them. "Even bunnies don't understand my feelings." Surprised by Crona's behavior, Patty Thompson begins to ask her sister a question, and Liz interrupts, assuming she already understands what Patty is going to ask: yes, Crona is like they were. While Liz remembers her and her sister's past, Patty corrects Liz: she wasn't going to compare themselves to Crona, but to ask whether Crona was a boy or a girl. Liz blushes as her sister laughs at her for getting nostalgic.
Meanwhile, although beheaded by Crona, the Flying Dutchman is still alive: so long as the Nidhogg is afloat, he will not die. He bounces his head across numerous cannons and commands that they fire upon Crona and Kid. However, due to Crona's progress towards becoming a Kishin and Kid's status as a shinigami, both are barely injured by these attacks. Crona announces their hate for these opponents, so they twirl Ragnarok to perform Screech Alpha, which divides the Nidhogg in two—and as the Nidhogg and the Dutchman are one, that evil spirit's head splits in two as well.
Realizing that the bisected Nidhogg will not hold for much longer, and seeing Crona and Ragnarok fly away, Kid summons Beelzebub from his palm and flies after them. But as he does so, he cannot forget the Dutchman's remark about "the Kishin who's closest to you guys," wondering whether that statement means the DWMA is hiding something. As Kid pursues Crona, the fog clears, as the fog must have been produced by the Nidhogg itself. Yet upon seeing the sun emerge, Kid stops his pursuit, instead heading in a direction perpendicular to Crona's path because he is admiring the symmetry of the sun and clouds in the sky. While Liz is annoyed at her meister, Crona therefore manages to escape.
Elsewhere, at the Death Weapon Meister Academy, Maka Albarn meets with Dr. Medusa in the dispensary to discuss blood tests she ordered after coughing Black Blood during her battle against Free on London Bridge. As the tests are normal, Medusa assures Maka that sometimes blood darkens as it dries. Yet Medusa thinks that the strong Soul Resonance between Maka and Soul should have led Maka to retain rather than expel rather the Black Blood. Medusa therefore prescribes Maka medicine that she claims will correct her blood but which will actually expedite the spread of Black Blood in Maka's body. As Medusa hands Maka the medicine, the physician asks whether Soul still has the strange dreams of the Little Ogre. Embarrassed that her weapon revealed these nightmares to their physician but not to his own meister, Maka lies that Soul is fine and departs, furiously intending to confront Soul for hiding problems from him.
Back in the dispensary, Medusa opens her file cabinets to review Maka's medical record, only for Franken Stein to surreptitiously enter with that file, asking why Medusa is so interested in Maka and Soul, and showing the unknown medicine he confiscated from Maka. Medusa assures that she is simply concerned for the two students after all the injuries they have experienced and claims her unidentified medicine is her own herbal treatment. Medusa and Stein each feign embarrassment and amusement at this situation, until Stein asks whether Medusa is acting as such due to her capacity as a nurse, or because she is a witch. While Medusa prepares hidden Vector Arrows to kill Stein, she instead feigns embarrassment at Stein's seeming insult about her looks, claiming he is sexually harrassing her, which causes Stein to laugh and depart—but not before falling off his chair.
While Stein effects amusement, he actually feels fear, something he has not felt for a long time, at the prospect that Medusa was going to kill him. Once the Academy is mostly empty, Stein meets with Sid Barrett in the hallway, informing him that their suspicions are correct: Medusa is a witch. As they require additional evidence to procure an assassination warrant from Death, Sid will investigate Medusa's lair in Libya, although Stein orders Sid to be careful.
Sid, wielding his weapon Mira Naigus, follows his investigation to Medusa's lair in Libya. Surprised that the door to her lair is open, he suspects a trap. He is also surprised to find not only multiple pieces of evidence identifying Medusa as a witch but a journal documenting her plans to use the Black Blood for something nefarious during tomorrow evening's Eve Anniversary Celebration at the Academy. Before he can report this evidence to Death and Stein, Tadpole Bombs destroy Medusa's lair, seeming to kill Sid and Mira. Eruka is already far away from the explosion, leaving with an attaché case decorated with arrows.
Later, in the Death Room, Kid approaches Death and demands that he explain what the Dutchman meant when he said "the Kishin closest to us," and how that statement is related to the reason why Death may not venture far from the Academy.
The Anniversary Celebration
It is April 1. The Death Weapon Meister Academy is decorated for its Anniversary Celebration, fireworks set off for the festivities. Kid and the Thompsons greet the arrival of Maka, Soul, Black Star, and Tsubaki, all of them (except Black Star) dressed sharply. Yet Kid is worried about what Death revealed to him yesterday that "something like that" actually exists inside the Academy.
With Spirit Albarn and Kid by him, Death begins the party with a very abbreviated welcome. Kid attempts to give a more exhaustive welcome, only to be interrupted by Black Star, resulting in a tussle between the two. Death wraps up introductions with encouragement that his students and staff enjoy this evening.
While Maka is amused by her friends' behavior at the party, Maka is distracted by her weapon's decision to separate himself at the balcony. Maka approaches him with a plate of food with her, ostensibly for herself. She comments that Soul should quit worrying about standing in line and just get the tasty food already—especially because she refuses to share her plate with him. Her teasing fails to coax him out of his mood, as Maka remembers how Medusa claimed Soul told the physician information about his bad dreams and health concerns rather than revealing such information to his own meister. Maka's best attempts to get him to talk and to dance with her, ostensibly to improve their Soul Resonance, lead Soul to rebuff him and Maka to beat him. They are interrupted by Spirit, who manages to take Maka back to the party to dance. As she is dragged away by her father, Maka shouts for Soul to make sure no one eats her plate of food. As Soul notices that Maka added raw salmon to her dish despite her dislike for such food, Soul thanks Maka, realizing she had stood in line and came to the balcony to provide the asocial weapon with a meal.
Meanwhile, in Death City, Eruka and Free have used their Soul Protect and cloaks to hide their presence, as Eruka speaks through the snakes in her body to inform Medusa that Ragnarok will arrive soon with "them." Medusa confirms this information as she stands away from the rest of the party in the reception's hallway. But Medusa's conversation is interrupted by a seemingly drunk Stein, who drags her to the party to dance.
Maka is just as upset by her own dancing problems. Her father reminisces a previous time he danced with Maka, at her kindergarten graduation ceremony, where she had to stand on his feet to dance. Spirit then recalls dancing with Maka's mother as well—but Maka corrects him that he actually danced with the mother of her classmate, Sara. Therefore, Spirit's assurance that he will be a good father to Maka is rejected as an unreliable promise.
Elsewhere on the dance floor, Medusa is nervous at the prospect of Eruka and the others seeing her dancing with Stein. Stein then reveals that he was never drunk, that he knows Medusa is a witch, and that he wants to know why she is investigating the Black Blood and the Kishin. Medusa explains that she will use the Black Blood to resurrect the Kishin. She considers his power to be part of the evolutionary process, a potential progress that Death and the Academy have impeded with their focus on maintaining the status quo. As Stein is as much a scientist as she is, Medusa reasons, should he not also be interested in disrupting this monotonous world to bring about some change? Welcoming him to join her, Medusa pulls Stein closer to him, and as her lips are about to reach his, a bit of snake magic escapes from her mouth, heading towards his own.
"Stein!!!" Sid calls out, dragging himself through the hallway and onto the dance floor. Stein and his students—Maka, Soul, Black Star, Tsubaki, Kid, Liz, and Patty—rush to Sid's aid. But they are distracted tending to the injured Sid that they are unable to stop Medusa, as she leaps from the balcony to a snake waiting for her to meet with Eruka, Free, the Mizune Family, and Crona and Ragnarok, as they prepare an Independent Cube to trap Death and the Academy's members while Medusa goes underground to resurrect the Kishin with the Black Blood.
Sid calls to Mira Naigus, still in her knife form, to perform Forced Burial: eight coffins emerge beneath the feet of Stein and his seven students, causing them to fall out of the reception area, out of the Cube, and into the underground. As Free locks the Cube, Sid calls out to his fellow teacher and their students: "I'm counting on you. Protect DWMA."
Outside the Cube, Free explains the Academy's members will be trapped for one hour before Death will be able to escape. While the Mizune begin their attack on Death City, Medusa leads the remaining members of her army underground to resurrect the Kishin.
Also under the Academy, Sid's Forced Burial coffins open from the ceiling, dropping the meisters onto their feet—and the weapons onto their backsides (a point not overlooked by an annoyed Soul). Stein and Kid then reveal all that they know but which their peers do not: the school physician Medusa is actually a witch who seeks to release the Kishin, "the beginning of madness" that is imprisoned under the Academy by only the magic seal maintained by Death, who can never leave Death City without also freeing this avatar of insanity. Without this seal, the Kishin will spread its madness upon its escape, and it is up to them to make sure that witch is not successful.
Back in the Academy's reception area, Ox wields Harvar D. Éclair but is unable to break through the Independent Cube. Kilik Rung urges Death to return to his mirror so to escape the room, but Death explains that the Cube also prevents him from entering "any world," so his escape is not possible for another hour. As Kilik and another student complain that peace in Death City has made students too complacent, Death corrects them: peace is something that of course people should get used to, and it is up to them to make sure that peace is not destroyed. "All we can do now," Death concludes, "is leave the rest to them."
The rest of them—Stein and his students—approach the entrance leading to the Seal Shrine. Before proceeding, Stein warns his students that this battle may be fatal, so if they are not prepared to confront fear itself, they had best turn back. As his students change from their formal attire into their usual clothing, Maka speaks for her friends: "We're going with you!!" Stein grins.
- This arc reveals why Medusa Gorgon has been researching the Black Blood to make Crona and Ragnarok into a Kishin: Medusa actually wants to see whether the Black Blood can resurrect the first Kishin, Asura, whose global spread of madness can force the world to evolve and therefore stop the DWMA's fixation on maintaining what she calls the status quo.
- This arc confirms that Death's large soul, first seen encompassing Death City in Chapter 3, is a seal to prevent Asura's escape from beneath Death City. Therefore, Death sends his meisters and weapons around the world to fight for him because not only does he need to maintain this seal around Death City at all times, but that after forming this seal he may never leave Death City.
- The Flying Dutchman refers to Asura as the Kishin "closest" to Kid. While his remark refers to Asura as residing within Death City itself, his remark may foreshadow that Asura is another fragment of Death, hence Kid's brother and therefore "close" to him familially.
- This arc suggests that Asura has been developing an army before his escape, whether by his own guidance or by potential followers taking the role themselves. The first such member to appear, the Flying Dutchman, will resurrect his Nidhogg as a Clown Factory in The Clown Arc. Later members of Asura's army will also appear, such as the defected Death Scythe Justin Law and the Clown Army, although whether they join Asura before or after his resurrection is not yet clear.
- This arc includes the first appearance of Mira Naigus, who appears in her human form in this arc's anime episodes but in only her weapon form and without dialogue in this arc's manga chapters.
- This arc includes the first appearances in the manga of Harvar D. Éclair (in weapon form only) and Kilik Rung, both of whom appear far earlier in the anime as cameos in Episode 4.
- This arc reveals that Mizune, who was killed by Medusa, is actually one of many sisters.
- During their battle on the Nidhogg, Crona hints at their childhood, mentioning "the Little One" (a rabbit in the manga, a dragon in the anime) that they had to kill to appease Medusa, which will be shown in the next arc.
- In this arc, Eruka says, "I love destroying things. I'm so glad I was born a witch." Later arc will reveal that destruction is integral to the very nature of witches, such as when Kim Diehl reveals that she had regenerative magic that made her an outcast among witches, when Kim offers to guide Angela Leon away from the path of destruction, and when Kid asks the Witch Judge and Maba to allow witches to channel that destructive nature to stop Asura and to find a way for witches, humans, and shinigami to co-exist.
- This arc includes an anime-only story, "The Legend of the Holy Sword 2," which as it is told largely by the self-aggrandizing Excalibur, provides potentially apocryphal information about himself, his love life, his family, his meister King Arthur, and Sherlock Holmes.
- Although the Flying Dutchman claims that he and the Nidhogg are one, hence any damage done to the ship is done to him, the reverse does not seem to be true. When Crona beheads the Dutchman, no similar damage is discernible to the Nidhogg. This relationship between the Dutchman and the Nidhogg also seems inconsistent: while Crona's bisection of the Nidhogg splits the Dutchman's upper jaw in half, Crona's attack does not also split the Dutchman's body below his jaw.
- In the Yen Press English translation for Chapter 14, Stein warns Sid not to "dig too deep." Stein may be making a pun: Sid has been shown already to dig frequently, in keeping with his theme as a zombie (he is able to rise and return underground to the grave) and his work as a spy (as "to go underground" is slang for spies hiding their locations).
- Ox Ford's English dub actor, Josh Grelle, narrates the opening to Episode 17 about Excalibur's history. Grelle is familiar with such narrations about history: he is the narrator to the anime Attack on Titan.
- Ox says that the legends refer to Excalibur as sleeping silently. Given how annoying he is to the fairies in the Eternal Cave even when not being wielded by meisters, as shown later in the anime and in the Late Show supplemental material, it is debatable whether those legends are accurate.
- In the original Japanese for Episode 17, Excalibur states his mornings begin with a cup of coffee. In the Funimation English dub, Excalibur adds that his morning coffee always includes cream.
- Excalibur's children are wearing baseball caps of the United States baseball teams the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the San Francisco Giants. Coincidentally, all of these teams happen to be in the National League in Major League Baseball, and two of them are in California (about which Excalibur sings later).
- Excalibur's image appears throughout Episode 17 in silhouette in backgrounds.
- Scenes that appear in Excalibur's first New York City flashback include parodies of 42nd Street, the Empire State Building, and the Apollo Theater (misspelled as "Appolo"). Images of Excalibur's silhouette appear throughout.
- Excalibur's New York City gang walk, dance, and dress in a style similar to performers from the play West Side Story.
- The visual sound effects during the New York City rumble resemble those found in the United States television adaptation of the DC Comics superhero Batman.
- The New York City dock has faces on its posts, the same as those found on the dock Black Star and Tsubaki stood upon in Episode 2. This information suggests that, in the anime, Al Capone's gang was working in New York City.
- Excalibur's opera house music is heard again at the Eve Anniversary Celebration in the next episode.
- In Soul and Maka's apartment, even before Liz explains that her report is about Excalibur, Kid already shows the Excalibur Face.
- The corpse groans when Excalibur hits it—as if the person is not really quite dead. That the corpse is living in a scene steeped in allusions to British culture may be a subtle allusion to the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which much is made of persons injured but not quite dead.
- Excalibur's car features an image of his top hat on the hood's ornament.
- Excalibur sings of California, which is the location of Mulholland Drive, where he and his beloved Cathy look upon the lights of Los Angeles.
- Excalibur's walk through the streets before meeting Cathy closely resembles the cover to David Bowie's album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, just one of many allusions to musicians found in Soul Eater.
- The scenes of Mulholland Drive allude to the 2001 film Mulholland Drive, directed by David Lynch. This is at least the second allusion to Lynch's works in Soul Eater, the first being the appearance of the Black Room and the short stature of the Little Ogre, both alluding to Lynch's television series Twin Peaks.
- In the preview for Episode 18, Maka is pleased to have avoided Excalibur. Ox is still recovering from contending with the annoying weapon. Maka asks Ox a burning question, which he assumes will be about his hair or custom glasses, but actually, she wants to know whether he wears boxers or briefs. Ox calls Maka obnoxious before answering briefs, prompting a confused, even disgusted response from Maka.
- Chapter 15 is also known by the titles "The Eve of the Establishment Commemoration Festival" and "Foundation Commemoration Christmas Eve." These titles may owe to an initial confusion about the time in which the DWMA anniversary celebration takes place: whereas many readers initially thought the ceremony takes place on Christmas Eve, Chapter 32 would reveal that the date of the anniversary party is April 1.
- In his first appearance in Chapter 15, Stein appears off-model in this first appearance in this chapter, his head appearing smaller than his own hands.
- At the Anniversary Party, when Stein initially approaches Medusa and pretends to be drunk, he shouts, "Kanpai!" (Japanese for "Cheers!") before mispronouncing it as the similar-sounding "nanmai" ("how many"), which indicates his supposed inebriation.
- In the Yen Press English translation for Chapter 15, when infuriated with Stein, Medusa refers to him as "kid." This remark may be an indication of just how much older this long-lived witch is than Stein.
- Chapter 15 leaves it ambiguous whether Medusa successfully kissed Stein, and whether she transmitted her madness through the snake that briefly emerged from her mouth.
- Free's Independent Cube technique is spelled with Chinese characters as "area of non-interference."
- Kilik's remark that the students have become too used to peace may clarify how dreadful the Kishin's release could be when this chapter is placed in the larger chronology with the manga Soul Eater NOT! In other words, if Kilik considered the near-fatal assault by DWMA students upon each other as caused by Shaula Gorgon's possession to be "peace," then the danger that is the Kishin looks all the more dire.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Eve Anniversary Party took place on April 1, as confirmed by Death the Kid in Chapter 32, hence the Death Weapon Meister Academy was founded on April 2. While Kid is investigating the Baltic, Sid reveals that the Eve Anniversary Party is tomorrow, hence Kid and Sid's investigations are on March 31.
- ↑ Soul Eater Volume 9: Yen Press English translation, Page 186
- ↑ Soul Eater Volume 9: Yen Press English translation, Page 186